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Compact? Wide play? Two different styles highlight San Diego-OL Reign NWSL semifinal

© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of similarities between the San Diego Wave and OL Reign. Both are defensively solid teams renowned for the organization of their pressing. Both possess aerial threats. And both are led by English coaches with a predilection for sitting on water coolers during matches. If there is a National Women’s Soccer League clash worthy of the famous Spiderman meme, this is it.

During the regular season, the Reign won both match-ups, winning 1-0 at Lumen Field in April and 2-1 at Snapdragon Stadium in June. However, both games were tense affairs that could have gone either way. When the two meet again this Sunday in the NWSL playoff semifinals, expect a similarly tight contest.

Based on analysis of their previous meetings, here are some of the key tactical patterns to look out for this weekend.

San Diego compactness

Casey Stoney has utilized different shapes when setting up her San Diego side against the Reign this season. In the first match, the Wave defended in a 4-3-3 with a narrow front three. In the second, it was a 4-4-2. The recurring theme in both, however, was the compactness of San Diego’s defensive shape.


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